Grab a bracket!

March Madness is the raging frat party that lets everyone in.

Starbucks moms in minivans suddenly become interested in basketball. Grandpa, grandma, and entire families fill out brackets and immerse themselves in the inter-generational fun.

Sometimes, no one knows what the heck they’re doing. And that can be a tremendous asset because it’s called March Madness for a reason.

When the wheels fall off for the favorites, the people who pick their brackets based on mascots, colors, or other whims often do the best. So here are five weird March Madness bracket strategies for all those who are just joining the college basketball party now.

Taste the rainbow

What colors speak to you?

  • Blue gives you Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and some other college basketball, um, blue-bloods.
  • Do you see red? Then, Arizona, Wisconsin, Texas Tech, and Houston might warrant your attention.

And if you want to take a more analytical approach to colors, check out this article from 2017 that explored the top 10 color combos of tournament winners.

And the infographic from Smarter Every Day has the colors of the NCAA Tournament winners going all the way back to 1930s.

Call of the Wild

The (Nittany) Lions won’t make the tournament, but there will be some Tigers (LSU) and Bears (Baylor). If you’re not interested in picking teams based on colors, you can always deploy the mascot method. Which animal or character would win in a fight? Or which one do you like better?

For now, Gonzaga is the top dog – Bulldogs to be exact – and leads the way in sportsbook futures.

  • On Saturday night, the Murray State Racers became the first team to automatically qualify for this year’s tournament.
  • Their mascot is a nod to Kentucky’s rich horse-racing tradition.
  • The Longwood Lancers and  Loyola-Chicago Ramblers have also qualified, with many other schools to follow soon.

Nerd Alert

Maybe intercollegiate athletics isn’t your thing. If you prefer academic competitions, you can peruse the college rankings from U.S. News and World Report to help you make your picks. Duke checks in at No. 9 there which could be a strong selection. And the Ivy League will have a team in the tournament too, but it might be wise not to value that team too much.

According to a 2019 article on the NCAA site, Ivy League teams were 8-34 in NCAA Tournament games since March Madness since 1985.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

If you want a competitive bracket without investing much energy, you can always rely on the experts when it comes to your March Madness bracket strategies. The sports betting apps in Pennsylvania and across the country already have futures pricing posted for the NCAA Tournament.

It might be a somewhat joyless approach – and even the oddsmakers can be wrong – but it should be a more reliable strategy than the other methods.

Here are the current top 10 teams in NCAA Tournament futures at DraftKings Sportsbook. (Be aware that pricing may change somewhat once the bracket is released).

  • Gonzaga: +350
  • Arizona: +650
  • Kentucky: +700
  • Auburn: +1200
  • Baylor: +1200
  • Duke: +1200
  • Purdue: +1400
  • Kansas: +1400
  • Texas Tech: +2500
  • Villanova: +2500

Choose Your Own Adventure

Sometimes the best method is the one you create on your own.

  • You could get a Magic 8 ball for about $10 on the internet to help you make your picks.
  • Do you have a lucky coin? Flip it.
  • Maybe you have a pet in your house that can help you make picks.
  • Make your choices based on the places you’d most like to visit.

At the end, how you choose your teams isn’t what really matters. Just find a way to fill your bracket.

Because March Madness is almost here. And you don’t want to miss the party.